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In this episode of the Productive Pastor I take the time to talk about my favorite time of the day and what mornings can mean for your personal productivity. We take a more conversational approach with this episode, so sit back and enjoy.

The List:
Creating A Lovely Morning: Leo Babauta
Leo gives us a beautiful example of the power of mornings and how they are created.

A Step-by-Step System to Higher Productivity: Greg Hickman
This blog post is for the true productivity nerd. Greg pulls back the curtain and goes really in-depth with his own personal system. I learned some great things here I plan on trying out.

Using Themed Work Weeks Instead of Themed Day Weeks: David Seah
I have been featuring David a lot on the podcast. His latest experiment is really interesting. I am a big fan of themed days. David is experimenting with shifting over to themed weeks.

The Morning Show

In this episode I share about why I absolutely love mornings. I think they are the most important part of the day. Here are a few bullets from what I shared.

  • What does your morning look like? Is it hectic or intentional?
  • My morning reset two years ago.
  • The more we direct our own schedule the more important it is for us to be on top of it.
  • Mornings are the most strategic part of the day. We get things together and plan for progress.
  • Anyone can make a better morning

I also share what my current morning routine is and how I am changing things up to streamline it for my new rhythms.

Remember to tweet your critical element using #productivepastor. You can reach me @revchadbrooks

Interview with Isaac Hopper.

 

Resources Mentioned.
Michael Hyatt: Becoming More Productive by Reengineering your Morning Ritual
Angel Chernoff: 12 Quiet Rituals of Extremely Successful Humans
Ministry Matters
Remember to sign up for the Productive Pastor Insider List. Get a great FREE productivity resource and the inside scoop every other Friday.

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I learned a HUGE lesson this last week that will change your ministry.

The funny thing was it already applied to this episode. Isn’t it great how things work like that?

In this episode I want to share with you why you (and your ministry) needs a production calendar. It is one of the big pieces in the picture that helps your ministry be effective and reaching people. I share plenty of resources in this episode, so get ready.

The List:

31 Ways Your Meetings Are Inefficient: Craig Jarrow
Confession. I hate meetings. They seem to always just be happen because people feel a meeting is necessary. Craig gives reasons why meetings sometimes suck and how you can make them better.

Tracking Producing vs Consuming: David Seah
David’s resources are no stranger to the podcast. Over the last month he has been on a journey to actually discover what he is creating/doing instead of just simply working. I have been tracking this journey. This blog post is a great primer to his entire experiment.

Productivity for Pastors-Know Thyself: Tim Spivey
Tim really lays it all out here. This is a great post about keeping it centered and being open to the process.

Why You Need a Production Calendar

This last week I have been at a training with other friends starting new United Methodist congregations in Louisiana this year. We have had an amazing time and I learned a lesson that really affects out discussion today.

Many times we ask questions about why we should be productive (because we are secretly scared we don’t know what to do next). As ministers, many of us didn’t receive practical training in seminary and bible college about these skills. We just keep our fingers crossed and learn as we go.

Imagine what our ministries could do if we understand the simple steps to managing large projects.

Here is my 9 ft long butcher paper timeline for the new church.

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What was the big lesson I learned? Amazing things happen when you focus on the small steps.

It is a simple, step by step timeline for everything I need to get done.

One of my growing passions is to help people learn to take ministry from A (a dream) to Z (done and won). An essential part of this is learning why everyone needs a production calendar. A production (or editorial) calendar is simply a map of everything you have going on.

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Here are the three benefits of a production calendar.

1. Production Calendars help you see the big picture.
Imagine what ministry could be like if everyone was always on the same page and accomplishing the same large goals. This is part of that process. Everyone knows why everything matters. Instead of 8 different focuses going on simultaneously, the entire ministry can focus on common goals and teaching strategies.

No one is shooting in the dark.

They also help you realize when you are teaching way to much of the same subject (yeah, that happens). I learned that lesson from preaching rocket and it changed the last 8 months of my preaching.

2. The Content is right in front of you.
Guess work in ministry is eliminated. You never are asking “what’s next?” When you plan out your month, weeks and days…there is purpose behind every decision.

3. You and your ministry are consistently, steadily moving forward.
It isn’t enough to just keep the ball in the air. That’s what many of us end up doing.

Doing this shouldn’t be scary. It is all about small steps toward much larger goals.

Toolbox Tip:

Keep something with you to always write down ideas. It might be an app, notebook or note cards. This way you can write it down and come back to it later.

Remember to sign up for the Productive Pastor Insider. I’ll give you my Weekly/Daily tools to keep you focused on ministry priorities. These are amazing, big picture resources to help you minister at the highest level of effectiveness.

 

Resources Mentioned:
CoSchedule Free Editoral Calendar Guide and Templates
David Allen: Getting Things Done.
Anne Samoilov: The Simple Content Creation Method + How To Publish More Than You Thought Humanly Possible

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Why Plant Churches

June 27, 2014 — 1 Comment

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Some of you know I was recently appointed to start a new Methodist congregation in North Louisiana. I have a mailing list I send out to anyone interested. A few people liked the first email so much I decided to post it here.

Why Plant Churches

One of the first questions I am asked when people hear about my appointment to plant a church is isn’t there already a Methodist church in Sterlington?
 
Yep. There is.
 
Then why start a new one?”
 
Here is where the rubber meets the road. The average church plant will bring 6-8 times more new people into faith than an older congregation of the same size.  Newer people groups and situations require new methods and new churches. New churches are able to streamline and focus ministry in unique ways that existing churches can’t.
 
This isn’t just institutional reproduction. Starting new churches is evangelism.
 
If we want to introduce new people to Jesus, we have to start new churches. 
 
Plain and simple. 
 
Starting a new church isn’t just a desire for something new or cool, but it is about reaching new people for Jesus. I don’t want to pour years of my life and expend tremendous resources for “just another worship optionfor church folks. It is about following the call to be part of something Holy Spirit led. For people who are already followers of Jesus, our highest calling is fulfilling the Great Commission. To follow the pioneering of the Holy Spirit and break new ground, go to new places, do new things and reach new people. God is calling not just Meredith and me, but others to be part of this new church. I don’t know who these people are yet, but I have been praying for them for the past year.
 
And I deeply believe that God is calling me to begin this in the Sterlington area. Not to be better or newer, but to go to a new mission field and meet new people and introduce them to Jesus. To follow the call of God without abandon. To create environments for them to experience God, possibly for the very first time. To help them discover the God-given purpose and call in their life. To create a culture of holiness and sacrificial love. To meet with God, see and experience His kingdom, and be part of doing everything we can to pull it into our place and time“your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven” type stuff
 
This is why we are planting a church.

 

ProdPastor1In this episode of the Productive Pastor, I interview Justin Wise. Justin is a consultant and runs #ThinkDigital. If you ministry is curious about how the digital age matters, Justin is the person to talk too. When I sat down to plan out season 2 I knew I wanted to interview Justin. He was gracious with his time and shares plenty of great information with us. I especially appreciated the conversation about call and what ministry looks like (and doesn’t look like) these days.

The List

How to Do More of What You Love (and Less of What You Don’t): Michael Hyatt
Michael has had several great podcasts on delegation. This is just the latest in the subject and it really digs into why everyone needs to be delegating.

How I Work On Several Projects At Once: Mike Vardy
Mike shares something each of us in ministry could learn from. We have jobs requiring multiple balls in the air at the same time. In this blog post, you can learn the benefit of intentional scheduling to keep everything moving ahead.

Schedule Productivity Around Ebb and Flow: Tanner Christensen
Do you ever try to do something important when you just don’t have the energy? The ebb and flow of our day matters, so schedule around it.

Resources Mentioned:
Justinwise.net
The Social Church (AMAZON link)
My review of The Social Church

Productive Pastor Insider Sign Up

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Over the last few months I have been developing a toolkit for a weekly, priority driven schedule.

It was made with folks in ministry in mind…but I think it can add value to anyone. Bundled with it are easy instructions for making this part of your day to day.

You can download it here AND get a bi-monthly email specifically about productivity.

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We haven’t done a guest post in a while. This one is from a good friend who has ministry and passion for Muslims. He wrote a great review of a book all of us could stand to read as we live in an increasingly multicultural setting. If you want to write a guest post, here are the things I ask for.

Connecting with Muslims by Fouad Masri. IVP Press, Downders Grove, IL. 2014. $12.00

Muslims are a great enigma in Western culture; especially in the Christian community. From terrorists who are commanded by their prophet and holy book to kill Americans, to Islamic evangelists poised to forcibly convert the world over to Islam and Sharia law, much of Islam is misunderstood. Yet, the Gospel mandate to “Go into all the world and preach the Gospel” compels us to go to Muslims with the Gospel, but sadly that rarely translates to our next door neighbor. Through immigration and globalized diaspora communities, millions of Muslims live next door and most Christians are too afraid to show them and share with them the love of Jesus. That reason alone is why Fouad Masri’s latest book Connecting with Muslims: A Guide to Communicating Effectively is such an important resource for North American Christians.

Masri not only answers many of the enigma’s that is Islam, he build bridges between Muslims and the average church member so the two can meet and Christ can be shared. The first half of the book focuses on practical ways to connect with Muslims like inviting them to share a meal or simply asking them to explain why they believe what they believe. Masri states “as ambassadors for Jesus, our goal is to construct a bridge by which our friends can cross over from misunderstanding to truth, from fear to faith. However, paralyzed with fear, many Christians hesitate to reach out to Muslims to offer them the same hope and security Jesus offered to them (24).” Jesus died for Muslims to know God and God has given us the responsibility and privilege to share that message with our Muslim neighbors, coworkers, and fellow citizens. How that is done is the contents of the second part of Masri’s book.

Addressing seven major “questions” or “themes” that may get brought up while in conversation with Muslims, Masri first and foremost reminds us that we must be intentional about sharing Jesus with Muslims. Being a Muslim’s friend does not create room for them to meet Jesus, only introducing them to Jesus does that. We do not convert or save, all we do is tell our story. Going through common objections like the Injeel (Arabic New Testament) has been corrupted or that Christians worship three gods, Masri gives helpful and visionary leading to North American Christians to most past fear and indifference, to evangelists who are sharing the life-transforming power of Jesus with a religion that desperately needs to know. “Muslims don’t know what we believe. They don’t know that Jesus has come to be the Savior- their Savior. It is a crisis of information.”

Practically sharing how and inspirationally sharing the what, Masri gives the church a practical and very helpful text in an area that very little has been written about- ministry to Muslims. Evangelism, missions, and church planting pastors need to read this book. God’s heart breaks for Muslims to know Jesus; will we be the carriers of that message? Masri says we must and I cannot recommend this book enough.

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Welcome to this episode of The Productive Pastor. I have some great resources to share, great conversations and a great announcement. The focus conversation this episode is having a great weekend.

The List:
The Top Ten Lessons I Learned from A Year of Productivity: Chris Bailey
Chris shares why he took a year off before he entered the workforce to become an expert in productivity. He really hemmed in on why we should be doing what really matters. The whole website is great, check it out.

6 Subtle Things Highly Productive People Do Every Day: Eric Barker
Eric shares the tiny things that really matter. I love what he had to say about starting off your day well. It’s one of my secrets.

How To Have a Great Weekend

When I first started thinking about productivity I read Laura Vanderkam’s “What The Most Successful People Do Before Breakfast.” It changed everything. I quickly started reading the rest of her books. My favorite is “What The Most Successful People Do on the Weekend.” Go pick both of them up. They are only 2.99 and are really short reads.

Laura’s basic premise is weekends need to be planned. I know, some of you are instantly turned off.

Think about it. If you want a great weekend, you need to plan for a great weekend.

Here are three tips to make your weekend great!

1. Find Something Special. Something you can only do on a weekend, with the space you have access too.

2. Find Something Regular. Plan a normal activity, a special breakfast or place you make part of your weekend routine.

3. Find a Way to Build Relationships. This isn’t just about you, but about those you love the most. Plan a great weekend that fills everyone up.

 

Tool Box Tip:
Do you have a day you regularly don’t look forward too? Perhaps it is just a really tough day and you are avoiding it. Because of this, you won’t give it your best. I recommend taking an extra hour and having your ideal morning before you get to the hard stuff. For me, this means plenty of time in scripture, Waffle House and around 30 minutes to drink coffee and read the internet. It puts me in the best possible mood to tackle whatever I need to do.

Productive Pastor Insiders List

I am super excited to release the Productive Pastor Insiders List. This will be a bi-weekly email featuring the best of the conversation about productivity, time management and the called life. It will be a place to feature community members and jump even more into the conversation.

As my FREE gift to you for signing up, I have developed an amazing weekly priority kit. It includes a weekly priority schedule, a day sheet and instructions on why I use this system every week. I want to give it to you just for signing up for the email list.

You can become a Productive Pastor insider HERE.

 

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Welcome to the first episode of the second season of The Productive Pastor. I LOVE doing this podcast and being part of the community. This season is going to rock. We have some great interviews recorded and great topics to help you rock time management in your ministry.

The List:
The Complete Guide to Structuring your Ideal Work Day: By Rachel Feltman
This is a great article explaining how certain actions at certain times enhance personal productivity.

Gospel Driven Productivity: By Joe Stengle

I am really happy the theology of productivity is getting more press. This post is an interview with Matt Perman, author of What’s Best Next: How The Gospel Transforms The Way You Get Things Done.

How To Stop Working 7 Days A Week: Carey Niewhof

Do you struggle with taking time off in ministry? Carey leads you through a practical examination that can help you stop and start sabbathing.

The Power of a Time Audit

Do you ever struggle with where your time went? I totally understand. I once had a director lead the entire ministry team through a time audit. It helped me tremendously learn to take control of my schedule and priorities.
If you want to get a handle on your productivity, the time audit is the first place to start.

Remember, you can’t improve what you don’t know.

time audit

Here are the 5 steps to a Time Audit:

1. Write out what you think you do.
2. Find a method. (episode 11 on daysheets)
3. Decide on an interval.
4. Take a week and do it.
5. Count it all up.

The time audit will give you a great baseline for personal productivity.

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how I podcast

Over the last few months I have been getting questions from people about how I podcast, what equipment/programs/services I use. I wanted to write up a post detailing all of that.

First-if you are thinking about podcasting, the answer is YES. You should absolutely jump into this. If you are in ministry, I think it is an imperative to explore the format. Ask yourself the question “How can I greater influence people in my community with a podcast?”

My Podcast Toolbox

Equipment:
Podcasting is a pretty basic enterprise. All you need is something to capture the sound (mic and a recorder) and something to edit (software). Let me show you a cheap way to get into it (cheap), what I use and then I will let you know what the pro’s use.

Cheap:
Many people start out with a USB microphone and a free audio program called Audacity. Just plug it into your computer and start recording. If you have a Mac, with GarageBand, I still recommend Audacity. It is that much better. Here are a few options for a USB Microphone.

Blue Yeti
Blue Snowball
Samson Meteor

What I Use:
I spent several years doing professional sound engineering and I even dabbled in opening up a recording studio. After my first few podcast episodes, I knew I needed to step up my game. What I currently use is a modified version of the “Ravenscraft Rig” (which I will link to below).

SM58 Microphone. This is the industry standard vocal microphone. For podcasting, a dynamic microphone (vs. a condenser) works much better. Many USB microphones are large diaphragm condensers. They work great for singing, guitar playing, etc…but not for spoken word.

Peavey Mixer. I plug my microphone and iPad into the mixer. If I do a Skype interview, I also route the audio through the mixer. (NOTE: you need to order have a mixer with inserts for compression. I just realized the Behringher mixer I linked to originally has been updated and no longer has inserts.) This is a suitable alternative.

Behringher Compressor: This is the secret sauce. I run my microphone and the outputs of the mixer through the compressor. It levels out my audio and gives it a broadcast punch.

Tascam Recorder: This is a flash based hard disc recorder. It records everything that goes through the mixer. It allows me to do the Productive Pastor “live”, with little to no editing needed in post-production.

I use my iPad to play all of the audio clips during both shows. It helps me make a seamless recording instead of tons of audio edits.

Software: Currently, I use Adobe Audition for final mastering and mp3 exporting. You could just as easily use Audacity.

When I record an episode of The Threshing Floor, I record my audio through my podcast rig. The other hosts use different options and send me a file with just their audio. I mix them all together in Audition and export the final mp3.

Hosting: I use Libsyn for both shows. For a minimal amount of money, Libsyn hosts the files and sends them to iTunes. There are other ways of doing this, but I love how Libsyn doesn’t limit the amount of downloads. If 1 podcast is downloaded or 1,09987,0987234,9007932, it costs me the same amount of money. They also offer a great embed code for the blog posts.

If you just want to produce a sermon podcast, I still recommend Libsyn. Just upload your sermon file instead of an individual show.

The Pro Rig:
You might be wondering how you can make podcasting more complicated than the equipment I just outlined! The fact is, it really isn’t. Professional podcasters use almost the same setup, just with nicer microphones and mixers. Cliff Ravenscraft (the Podcast Answer Man) uses and sells a very similar setup. I just modified it a little bit and I think I am getting around 85% of the quality the pro’s get, for a fraction of the cost. The great thing is, I can add piece by piece and slowly upgrade my whole setup.

This is what I use to podcast. If you have any question-feel free to ask!

Changes!

May 4, 2014 — 2 Comments

Today my appointment to begin a new Methodist church in the Sterlington/North Monroe area was announced at St. Paul’s.

The last three years have been an amazing season of ministry. I have learned many things and treasure being allowed to pastor the people of St. Paul’s UMC. Meredith and I will deeply miss our St. Paul’s family.

This appointment has been the process of years of prayer, conversation and discernment. We know many of our friends (local and worldwide) have questions about the generalities and specifics of the new church. We want to answer any and all questions! We have set up an email list to share what God is doing as we follow the Holy Spirit in this new ministry opportunity.

This is an exciting time for Meredith and me. I would love for you to sign up for the email updates to learn about the unfolding of God’s story here in Northeast Louisiana.